Alterations in drug disposition in older adults

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2015 Apr;11(4):491-508. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2015.1004310. Epub 2015 Jan 19.


Introduction: The worldwide population is aging, and several age-associated physiological and pathophysiological changes can affect drug disposition. This is particularly important in view of the extensive medication prescribing and exposure in older adults.

Areas covered: Using a framework of the four primary pharmacokinetic processes (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Elimination), this review discusses the current evidence of the pharmacokinetic changes that occur with aging, particularly 'healthy aging,' focusing on developments in this field over the last 10 years.

Expert opinion: A substantial amount of work has been conducted to address whether advancing age significantly affects drug disposition in humans. Despite significant advances in the field, particularly regarding drug metabolism and elimination, a number of issues remain unsolved. In particular, lack of inclusion of older adults with multimorbidity and those aged > 80 and minimal evidence in relation to new drugs limits the applicability of findings to current clinical practice.

Keywords: absorption; aging; distribution; elimination; metabolism; pharmacokinetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Pharmacokinetics*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations